How to Play Power Chords
Power chords are quite easy to understand, and if you take a look at the page on Bar chords, you'll notice some obvious similarities.
A power chord is basically made up of 2 notes, ie the root note and the fifth, and is sometimes written as a 5 chord.
An example being E 5 or A 5 etc.
The most common form of power chord is made up of the root, 5th and octave.
Although it's three notes that are played, technically speaking it's still only two.
Sometimes people leave out the octave, which is still a power chord.
Here's what the finger positioning looks like.
As you can see, the finger positioning is exactly the same as a G major or G minor Barre Chord (Bar Chord), except you only play the three thick strings
ROOT NOTE - G
5TH NOTE - D
OCTAVE - G
Power chord root notes on the E string
There are power chords with their root notes on the other strings as well, but for now, here are the root notes on the E string again.
These are for when your guitar is tuned to the standard tuning.
ROOT NOTE - C
5TH NOTE - G
OCTAVE - C
As you can see, the finger positioning is exactly the same as a C minor Barre Chord, except you only play the third, fourth and fifth strings.
Power Chords on the 6th string
Power Chords on the 5th string
Power chord root notes on the A string
When I play power chords on the 5th string I have my index finger protruding a bit further across the string, so that it touches the 6th string slightly.
This has the effect of deadening the 6th string so that it doesn't sound accidentally.
A quick tip for playing power chords
If you approach playing power chords in the same way as Barre chords, you'll be able to play them much better.
When your index (1st) finger is placed flat across the fretboard, like in barre chords, you can easily lift it slightly so that the thinner strings don't make a sound.
This helps you gain better control of the notes, especially if you're using a loud overdriven amplifier, where everything that's not held down will literally scream at you.
Power Chords on the 4th string
Here the root and the fifth are the same distance apart as on the previous power chords, but the octave is one fret further away.
OCTAVE - E
5TH NOTE - B
ROOT NOTE - E
Power chord root notes on the D string
When I play power chords on the 4th string I also have my index finger extended a bit further across the strings, but it still leaves the sixth string totally open.
Here's where palm muting helps a bit.
Power chord root notes on the G string
It's not very often that you'll use power chords on the 3rd string. In my own experience they make an excellent addition when recording rock guitar though.
You can use them to double up on the lower power chords, like when there are two guitarists in the band, and you just want to spice up the sound a bit.
I often combine them in my own recordings, but I've had very little place to use them live.
Anyway, here are the root notes on the 3rd string
Here the 5th and octave are three frets up from the root note
Power Chords on the 3rd string
ROOT NOTE - A
5TH NOTE - E
OCTAVE - A
Video on power chords
In this video I've tried to cover the most common kinds of power chord, as well as give a few extra things one can do with the whole power chord concept.
I must make a small apology though, seeing as my guitar was ever so slightly out of tune in certain places.
Power chords sound their best when your guitar is perfectly in tune.
Good excuse to make another video then.